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  1. Altimeter Contests
  2. Abram Van Dover

Altimeter Contests

From: Aram Schlosberg
In the north east, we have very few fliers and a tight flying field encase by corn and tall trees. Maxes are typically reduced and the challenge boils down to a flyoff flight for the clean flyers. The standard FAI formal is one flight per hour with a max set at 4 or 3 minutes. Typically, fliers time each other which mean that pair time each other and then retrieve their model. And if one can’t pair up, you have to wait until a timer frees up and you fly all by yourself in the later portion of each round.
Flyoffs are exciting to fliers and spectators, but are confined to those who maxed out. However, a flyoff format can be used at tiny contests in small fields. We could fly altimeter contests (Alt-Cont), where models are DTed at 2:00 minutes, estimating their altitudes. Flyers will be scored by the sum of their heights at 2-minutes over all rounds. An unlikely tie will be resolved by flying one more altimeter flyoff round.
AC rounds will have 7-minute launch windows with a 3-minute warning. The format allows the flexibility of waiting until all fliers have returned and are ready. However, a no-show or a not-ready will entail a zero for that round. DTing obviously earlier or later than 2-minutes will be scored as a zero.
A pure ALT-CONT require no (human) timers and no helpers, except in glider where a launcher is always preferred to a launching mount.
But not all models have altimeters. If no model has an altimeter, then their rounds are scored by their DT-to-landing (DTTL) time, timed from the flight line. Scores are in time, not altitude. Here, the number of (human) timers matches the number of altimeter-less models. Only one timer per model suffices as models DT at 2-minutes.
In the mixed case with some models without an altimeter, these models will have their DTTL timed from the line. The DTing sink rate can be estimated from a model with an altimeter whose DTTL time is also timed from the line. Once quantified, the DT-sink rate can be used to convert DTTL of the models without altimeters to DT altitudes. The default DT-sink rate would be 2.5 m/second, as it takes 20 seconds for an A-model to DT from 50 meters.
Practically, an Alt-Cont format should be limited to at most 5-7 flyers. Having models without altimeters complicates matters. And in a meet with multiple events, limiting them to one or two Alt-Cont events seems reasonable. Of course, an Alt-Cont format has to be advertised in advance.
In an Alt-Cont, flying five flyoff flights during a contest is challenging and interesting. Finding thermals and performance matters and all flying is concentrated along a short flight line in 7-minute launching windows. Retrievals of 2-minute flights can be done on foot. The number of (human) timers range between none when every model has altimeter to a timer per model when none have them. ///

Abram Van Dover

From: Andrew Barron

Dear Free Flight Community,
Abram Van Dover, a long-time hero of US Free Flight, passed away today, per
the messages passed from one of his daughters via J.P. Kish and Jim Coffin,
forwarded below.  Abram led freeflight activity in Virginia and the central
Atlantic region from the 1960s (and likely earlier) to the present.  I was
a 9 year old kid meeting him in 1969 and following. He showed himself to be
the epitome of class leadership.  Every contest he ran, you knew would be
at the highest level of sportsmanship, commanding respect for our very
grand activity.  His leadership skills were recognized nationally as he ran
U.S. National Championships for Free Flight as the overall Contest Director
(once or several times?) and for many decades (even in recent years) he ran
ROW (Rise off Water) events at the Nats.  Jim also points out that three
times Abram ran the SAM (Society of Antique Modelers) Championships and was
quite deservedly inducted into the National Free Flight Society Hall of

To allow appropriate reminiscing I have made an exception to my email
policy and have sent this notice to my list publicly rather than privately
(using To rather than BCC).
I hope you will forgive this indulgence in this case.

Abram will be sorely missed.

May he soar!

———- Forwarded messages ———
From: JP Kish  (October 20)

I sent an e-mail to Abram Van Dover this morning and received this response:

Mr. Kish, this is Van’s oldest daughter writing you.  I am sad to inform
you that Van died this morning at 1056 am.  It was quite sudden, and we are
all in shock.

Big loss.


From: Jim Coffin

Yes it is a great loss. Always admired his dedication to and interest in
all phases of model aviation. He was the FF CD for three of the SAM
Champs.  I knew him for well over 50 years and it was a privilege to
nominate him to AMA Hall of Fame.

Please pass this on to anyone that may have known him. Thanks
Jim Coffin